BOSTON — With swing voters in his sights, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is tacking toward the center on health care and defense spending now that he's put his final partisan hurdle behind him and the sprint to Nov. 6 is under way.
Romney said in an interview that aired yesterday that he would retain some popular parts of the 2010 health care law he has pledged to repeal, saying the features he would keep are common-sense measures in what he calls an otherwise costly, inefficient plan.
The former Massachusetts governor also faulted congressional Republicans for going along with the White House on a budget deal that has set up automatic spending cuts that include huge reductions in defense spending — a deal his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, helped steer.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama focused Floridians' attention on the Republican ticket's stand on Medicare, an issue that's been more favorable to Democrats.
Romney's campaign dismissed the idea that the comments were a lurch toward the middle now that the Republican convention, the last partisan event of the campaign, has passed, even as Romney was visiting the most competitive states on the election map.
"I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place," Romney told NBC's "Meet the Press" in an interview taped Friday and Saturday. He cited coverage for people with medical conditions and new insurance marketplaces.
Romney's aides said that was consistent with his previous position that those who haven't had a gap in coverage shouldn't be denied coverage.
But the comments brought renewed attention to the similarities between Obama's plan and the one Romney championed when he was Massachusetts governor, which included protections for health conditions and an individual mandate that the Republican has since railed against.